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USDA Invests $70 Million in Renewable Energy Infrastructure to Help Rural Communities, Businesses and Ag Producers Build Back Better

Name
Christopher Freeman
City
Bismarck
Release Date
Sep 09, 2021

BISMARCK, N.D., Sept. 9, 2021 – USDA Rural Development North Dakota Acting State Director Mark Wax announced that the Department is investing $70 million to build or improve renewable energy infrastructure and to help rural communities, agricultural producers and businesses lower energy costs in North Dakota. 

 “We live in an ever-changing world,” said Wax. “With these changes comes the opportunity, especially for small businesses, to decrease their carbon footprint by utilizing energy-efficient technology. We recognize that lowering energy costs help expand economic development in rural towns and communities.”

USDA is financing $129 million of these investments through the Rural Energy for America Program. This program provides funding to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements. These climate-smart investments will conserve and generate more than 379 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) in rural America, which equates to enough electricity to power 35,677 homes per year. 

USDA is financing $335 million of these investments through the Electric Loan Program. The loans will help build or improve 1,432 miles of line to strengthen reliability in rural areas. The loans include $102 million for investments in smart grid technology, which uses digital communications to detect and react to local changes in electricity usage.

The department is announcing investments today in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Wyoming and Puerto Rico. 


For example:  

  • In Arkansas, Petit John Electric Cooperative Corporation will use a $40 million loan to connect 1,692 consumers and build or improve 156 miles of line. The loan includes $3.8 million in Smart Grid funding to install 122 miles of overhead fiber-optic communications lines and substation fiber-optic backbone. Petit Jean is headquartered in Clinton, Arkansas. They serve 20,200 customers over 3,500 miles of line in nine counties.    
     
  • Prairie State Solar, LLC will use a $95 million loan to construct a 99 megawatt solar photovoltaic farm on 621 acres in Perry County, Ill., about 50 miles southeast of St. Louis. Prairie State has a 27-year power purchase agreement with the Wabash Valley Power Association Inc. to sell and deliver the electricity produced. Wabash is an electric generation and transmission cooperative headquartered in Indianapolis. It provides wholesale power to 23 distribution cooperatives in Illinois, Indiana and Missouri.
  • Gulf Coast Solar LLC in Mississippi will use a $500,000 grant to make energy efficiency improvements at three wastewater treatment facilities in Hancock County. Funds will help the company design, build and install fixed-tilt, ground-mount solar photovoltaic equipment through a contract with LightEdison. The equipment will help replace 103 percent of electricity at the North location, 57 percent of electricity at the South location and 107 percent of electricity at the West location.

 

In North Dakota:

  • James Diepolder will use a $20,000 grant to install a more energy-efficient grain-drying system. This project will save the business nearly $6,000 per year and will replace 120,744 kilowatt hours (38 percent) per year, which is enough electricity to power 11 homes.
  • Corey Hovelson will use a nearly $10,000 grant to install a more energy-efficient grain drying system. This project will save the business $13,455 per year and will replace 360,073 kilowatt hours (45 percent) per year, which is enough electricity to power 33 homes.
  • Albert Grohs will use a $12,000 grant will be used to help install a geothermal heating and cooling system. This project will save the business $3,805 per year and will replace 65,608 kilowatt hours (76 percent) per year, which is enough electricity to power six homes.
  • Brian Dale Haugen will use a nearly $20,000 grant to install a more energy-efficient grain drying system. This project will save the business $5,955 per year and will replace 120,744 kilowatt hours (26 percent) per year, which is enough electricity to power 11 homes.
  • Krause Incorporated will use a $20,000 grant to install more energy-efficient refrigeration and HVAC systems. This project will save the business $11,166 per year and will replace 140,238 kilowatt hours (26 percent), which is enough electricity to power 13 homes.
  • Red Trail Energy LLC will use a $25 million loan to help construct a carbon capture processing and storage facility onto an existing methanol manufacturing facility. The project will lower and reduce the carbon intensity score of its produced ethanol by 40 to 50 percent and allow distribution to low carbon fuel standard markets.
  • Roughrider Electric Cooperative Inc. will use a $45 million loan to connect 243 consumers, as well as build and improve 291 miles of line. The loan includes $2 million in Smart Grid technologies. Roughriders Electric is headquartered in Hazen, N.D. It serves and average of nearly 15,000 customers over 5,234 miles of line in Billings, Dunn, Golden Valley, Hettinger, McKenzie, Mercer, Oliver, Slope, and Stark counties.

To learn more about these and other resources for rural areas, contact a USDA Rural Development state office
 

Under the Biden-Harris Administration, Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit http://www.rd.usda.gov/nd. If you’d like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit our GovDelivery subscriber page
 

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.  

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.